This week, at a conservative estimate, I have had ONE HUNDRED Spam comments. Just as well I check these things because, nestled in amongst them, was a genuine comment from a close friend.
This business of Malicious Anonymity DOES concern me, however.
Before I go any further with this, I want to make a clear distinction between Needful Pseudonyms, and Hiding behind a convenient Mask of Full or Partial Namelessness for mischievous or malignant purposes.
I have friends who blog under names not their own (for excellent personal reasons); I have also come across bloggers who have hidden their identity because they are escaping abusive relationships and do not wish to be found by their abusers.
But there is another, to me far more worrying, group of individuals – and not all of them are Spammers in the conventional sense, though many of them prey upon other writers and leave offensive comments.
I call this second group Disgusted From the Shires – and, my dears, they are LEGION!
They tut, disapprove and get angry for a past-time! They descend, like carrion crows, upon the vulnerable body of a fresh piece of writing – and rip it to shreds. And then? They spread their dark wings and, cloaked in anonymity, soar up into the thin air of dissatisfaction, envy, spite and fury.
The warning signs are very clear: These people appear suddenly, from nowhere, and are completely unknown to us as individuals – yet they assume an intimacy and a degree of rudeness which is breath-taking in its scope.
Their favourite ploy is telling us off! They LOVE it! God knows why! I can’t imagine a situation in which I would swoop down upon a fellow writer’s post and take that person to task for either the style or, even worse, the content of a post.
The tedious, and now oft-copied (usually by morons!), plaint against me is that I am a self-centred whiner who is completely uninteresting to read and could end my problematic situations JUST LIKE THAT if I wished.
For a long time – too bloody long! – I took this and, because I have been brought up to be polite, wrote calming responses to this kind of vitriol.
What I should have said, right from the start, was, ‘How DARE you judge me in this way? Do you know me? No, you sodding well don’t. You are making assumptions based upon the tiny fragment of my life I choose to share on here. Who gave you the right to tell me how to live my life anyway?’
I think such people are drawn to posts which will annoy, disappoint or distress them – because then, in their minds, it gives them the excuse they apparently need so desperately to vent!
Now, I am a prize ranter myself – but I do it generically! I do not land on another writer’s precious work and leave a nasty comment. I do not think it is my business to judge a fellow human being as weak, or defeatist, or selfish, or a whiner, just because that person does not deal with life the way I do.
My view is very clear: If another writer is pissing you off to such an extent that you feel obliged to leave a plethora of toxic comments, a) why the hell do you carry on reading this person’s stuff? and b) what is it in YOU that is causing such a strongly negative response to someone else?
I am myself on here – and this includes taking responsibility for anything I leave on someone else’s blog. Odd, isn’t it, that the most poisonous comments I have received have come from individuals who do not have the guts to show themselves!
Such behaviour comes perilously close to stalking, in my eyes!
I am not a child in need of correction. I am not an emotional cripple. I am not here to bear the brunt of other people’s neuroses, fantasies and frustrated rage. I am not here to be spat at, or metaphorically slapped, because I have inadvertently pushed Anonymous from Grimsby’s buttons!
Perhaps those members of Disgusted from the Shires who so infest blog sites with their carping and criticism and pointless negativity should start writing long letters to The Telegraph instead!
Take a leaf from ‘I’m Sorry, I haven’t a Clue’ and call yourselves Mrs (or Mr) Trellis, and get stuck in with the whinges!
You Anonymous Wallahs may THINK you know me; may think that we have passed a level of intimacy which allows you to speak to me the way you do – but you do NOT know me, and we have certainly NOT got anywhere near that kind of friendship!
I am quite sure YOU feel safer in your Anonymous garb; it may well give you an odd feeling of power, being able to nip in and out under a Cloak of Invisibility.
What about the poor sods you infest, though?
Anonymity does not give you the right to say what you like. It does not give you the right to castigate someone else. It does not give you the right to Cherry-Knock upon another writer’s door.
I understand, as intimated above, both the lure of, and the genuine need for, anonymity. It is a legitimate choice, in many cases the only one possible at the time.
But, if you are using that choice to bully others on line, I call that cowardice.